Pregnancy

My Miscarriage Made Me Anti-Abortion, But Still Pro-Choice

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In the current political climate, I feel like it’s more important than ever for women to stand up and protect their right to decide what happens in their bodies. Motivated by the recent attacks on women’s reproductive freedom, such as the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act and the various Personhood Amendments, I would like to discuss a very personal time in my life and how it reinforced my firm belief that each woman deserves to be in charge of her own health.

As I’ve written about previously, I suffered from an ectopic pregnancy at the beginning of the year. After trying to conceive for 19 months, it was a devastating experience.

From the minute I found out that I was pregnant, that baby was real to me. It didn’t matter how small it was. It didn’t matter if it had fingers or toes yet. At seven weeks, I was talking to my stomach and picking out names. For  me, that fetus in my Fallopian tube was a person from the second of its creation.

Even now, I feel that I lost a baby, not a clump of cells. I grieved for my child, not the Fallopian tube that I lost with it. In my mind, that infant has an identity and a life, one that I am so sad to have missed knowing.

On that day, I realized that I could not get an abortion. Even if a decade down the line, I’ve fallen to financial ruin and find myself in a difficult position. To me, the minute the second line turns pink, there’s a human being in there. This horrible experience has convinced me without a doubt that I would personally not feel comfortable getting an abortion.

And yet, even after everything I’ve gone through, even though I’ve thought of a five-week old fetus as a person, I would never assume to tell another woman what she should feel about what’s happening in her body. In fact, my situation has proven to me that I have no place in another woman’s decision about her health.

The way I reacted when I found myself pregnant was personal. It was a private feeling from deep inside me, a bond with a child that I desperately wanted. It had nothing to do with those around me. It had nothing to do with what the doctors said. It was a part of my heart that I can’t quite explain, but I know that it was my own private connection.

After feeling that intense bond and knowing that it comes from a place within me, how could I attempt to force that feeling on to someone else? I know that my recognition of this child was a private decision, so how can I try to control someone else’s ability to decide how they feel? How could I be anything but pro-choice?

I went through this experience as an individual, and I dealt with my loss differently than other women who went through the same thing. Hell, I handled it differently than my husband, and we lost the same child.

I attached my feelings for this baby to a blanket that my mother had gotten us. To me, that pure white blanket belongs to the child I lost. I couldn’t pass that on to another baby, should I ever get the chance. This blanket represents the child that I didn’t get to bury and say goodbye to. For my husband, he didn’t attach those feelings to any inanimate object. He dealt with our trauma in a different way.

My extended family, who bought presents for the baby that I lost, weren’t mourning a child like I was. They felt sympathy for me as I was grieving. They were concerned for my health. But they didn’t feel that sense of loss that would come from losing a family member. For them, they hadn’t formed the attachment that I had.

Every person deals with pregnancies and miscarriages in their own way. We feel connected to what’s happening in our reproductive system or we don’t. It’s the woman carrying a pregnancy who decides when a fetus is in fact, a person. She’s the one who feels that connection. She’s the one who gives her body and her heart to the infant growing inside her.

For me, that happened immediately. And I will never regret that I felt that love instantaneously, even if I lost it in the end. But just because that happened for me, it doesn’t mean that it can or should happen for every woman. If my miscarriage has taught me anything, it’s that no one can know a woman’s reproductive system like she does. And that’s why I believe that no one should make those health decisions for her.